The Power of your PIN or Password:
Wimpy or Mighty?
As a Mortgage Lender, I see and review many credit reports for clients and Referral Partners during the early stages of the mortgage process. And all too often, those reports I'm reviewing exhibit that security breaches or errors have been made on accounts, both banking and credit.
Now sometimes, especially when human error is involved, the problem is easily fixed. In those cases, proof is produced to clear-up the problem ... and/or a Letter of Explanation is provided to the account holder (or credit bureau itself) to rectify the issue.
But once-in-awhile, the problem is a bit different in nature. And typically my client is unaware of the problem's existence. Either "life" got in their way ... or they simply were not paying attention. But we find ... through their credit report review ... that some how ... some way, their credit account or debit card has been hacked, their PIN (personal identification number) or password stolen. I bet you know someone personally that's suffered through this in some way at some time.
I just read an article this last week that addresses this more menacing issue. Written by Lisa Scherzer of "The Exchange" on Yahoo! Finance, the article told just how very easy it is for criminals to figure out account PINS and passwords. Seems collectively, we account-holders aren't too imaginative in our efforts to create these security defenses and they're getting breached often.
Ms. Scherzer reported within her article, that data scientist, Nick Berry, founder of Data Genetics consultancy, analyzed passwords from released/exposed password tables and security breaches. For those codes that were just 4 digits long, there were only 10,000 possible 4-digit code combinations for the numbers 0 through 9.
Nick Berry broke those 10,000 options down to find the least and most predictable combinations of digits. And what he found was that almost 11% of the 3 to 4 million 4-digit passwords analyzed utilized the code, 1234. 11%!! And it was found that 1234 was used more than the lowest 4,200 codes combined. Make you stop and think??
The 2nd most popular code/PIN was: 1111, (6% usage). Next came: 0000, (2% usage). Just last year, another data company and report found that the most-often used PINS and Passwords were "123456" and "password", respectively. We're a clever bunch, aren't we?
But of all the stats and info I read, perhaps the one that alarmed me the most was the following: It was found that 26.83% of ALL passwords were discovered easily by utilizing just 20 different combinations of 4 digits.
Use a birth date? An anniversary date? Telephone number? Address? A family member's name? How 'bout your dog's? There's no doubt that they'll help you remember your code. But guess what ... they help criminals crack-it too. And fairly easily.
Also within this informative and helpful article were two tables. One was of the Top 20 most frequently used 4-digit combinations ... and the other of the 20-least frequently used 4-digit combinations. I suggest strongly that you follow the link provided within this post to see which of the tables your PIN falls within ... or if it's somewhere in between. Do some investigating ... and find out where the likelihood of your PIN or password being de-coded lies. Then consider changing your PIN or password. Because, as I said at the beginning of this post, breaches of security do happen. With remarkable and increasing frequency.
The Power of your PIN or Password: Wimpy or Mighty? Check it out ... and then use the information and links provided here to your advantage. Make changes, if needed. Protect yourself, your accounts, your family, and your assets. Do it NOW!
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